HAPPY 2016 EVERYONE! 😀
We’ve had a relaxing break and hope that you’ve all had a safe, happy and healthy festive period too!
As we transition into this sparkling New Year, it offers the chance of promise and a ‘clean slate’ of fresh opportunities. What are you planning; resolutions to rid yourself of bad habits, drastic diets or some realistic permanent and positive changes?
This is a cheeky picture of us during Christmas and no we hadn’t been drinking, but we were still enjoying the moment! You do not have to drink to enjoy social occasions, and having preconceived ideas of what you need to do to have a good time can set you up for a bumpy ride. This can also apply to ‘getting healthy’, especially at this time of year.
January usually brings a flood of clichés and crazy regimes, including ‘detox diets’. We have previously mentioned how we feel about ‘superfoods’, ‘detox/BS Health Terms’ and ‘diets’ and to recap, it’s unnecessary and typically diets will set you up to fail. Instead of trying to ‘detox’ your liver, gut, or your right foot, maybe you should try ‘spring cleaning’ your attitude and goal setting criteria instead.
…So here are five areas which we recommend you concentrate your energy on:
1. Give Up On Quick Fixes & Following Fad Diets
We all know that quick fixes and fad diets do not work long term and yet a great many people convince themselves that this time they’ve discovered the secret to easy and rapid weight loss. The only secret is the one kept by the marketers of these diets, which is that you’ll regain the weight as soon as you stop following the diet. However, this isn’t much of a secret, as we’re sure many followers of these quick fixes have been through this cycle at least once already. So what we should be doing is retraining our brains and attitudes.
Creating bad, good or even easy habits can be addictive by nature, but when it comes to creating long term and permanent commitments, we should be seeking only positive ones. Recognise your strengths and weaknesses when modifying your diet and lifestyle and realise that it’s a long-term commitment, not just an intermittent hobby; meaningful changes will not occur overnight.
We have previously talked about ‘fad gluten free diets’, but the principle can be applied to most fad regimes. You might think you need to give up carbs, gluten or go on a seven day detox to lose weight, but why has this become ingrained into your thought processes? The important question to ask yourself is why no accredited nutritionist and/or Dietitian worthy of the name would suggest a quick fix or unscientifically based mantra?
So if someone and/or a product suggests that you can achieve meaningful weight loss through a quick fix (a.ka. a fad diet!), you should put as much distance between them and yourself as possible… and query any other health advice they have to offer.
Which leads us to….‘Detoxing’.
The term ‘detox’ is very real, especially if you’re suffering from alcoholism. When it comes to ‘detoxing’, there isn’t enough credible scientific data published to show that we should take it upon ourselves to ‘cleanse’ or detoxify our bodies in the absence of any genuine addictions. Eating whole foods and eliminating processed foods is a lifestyle change that will benefit anyone. A healthful diet and lifestyle helps our liver, kidneys, colon and other organs to preform our natural mechanisms of ‘detox ’to help keep our bodies running without fail; detox kits and/or regimes do not offer us any substantial benefit and can cause diarrhoea, short term water loss, nutritional deficiencies and a dent in our wallets.
2. Be Realistic About Exercise
Exercise can help reduce our risk in developing heart disease, dementia and other chronic conditions but it does not always promote weight loss, especially if we disregard food portion controls and other healthy eating advice! It can be a great way to improve our mental and physical fitness, but don’t expect it to provide you with a ‘detoxing’ solution. When we sweat, we release sodium, not toxins; as mentioned above, our body has other processes to deal with this. Don’t get us wrong, you can work up a great sweat and detoxify your mind of negative and destructive thoughts, which is great a way to de-stress your mind of day-to-day anxieties and fears.
Developing a realistic exercise programme (one that we can easily fit into our day-to-day lives and enjoy!) can take time and a lot of trial and error. As we are hardwired to conserve energy, we can naturally procrastinate, trying to put off the inevitable… including regular exercise.
If you are new to exercise, it might be worth checking with your healthcare professional first. Embarking on a new exercise regime will take persistence and patience and there are ways to make it easier, but quite honestly it won’t always feel ‘fun’. There have been times where we have felt that exercise was a bit bothersome or that prior to the session it just wouldn’t be ‘good’. All of this pessimistic thinking only leads to failing before you have begun. Putting it into perspective, you wouldn’t expect that going into your office everyday would be prefect, bad days happen, but you do get through them; no one calls in sick because the day in question might be rubbish, so why treat your exercise sessions any differently?!
3. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
Genetics, age, personal circumstances… we are all different, including the way that we lose weight. For example, Alex has the metabolism of a jet engine and struggles to gain weight, whilst my metabolism needs regular exercise and meals to make sure it’s running efficiently and to help keep my health (and waistline!) in check.
When it comes to meaningful weight loss, there are no quick fixes and there is definitely not a ‘one size fits all approach’; one method that will allow everyone to lose weight in the same timespan or manner.
Additionally we all come in different shapes and sizes; not everyone is designed to be a size 4! We need to appreciate our own circumstances, bodies and cast aside any unrealistic or unhealthy ideals.
A picture of a skinny body does not necessarily depict a healthy diet, it might be down to genetics or a case of someone having high levels of will power and/or potentially disordered eating behaviours.
So don’t compare yourselves to others, we all have our own journey and it is never truly finished; healthy living continues beyond ‘weight loss’, which is only one of many steps.
4. Manage Negative Influences
Negative influences can include anyone or anything that provokes or causes unnecessary stress, roadblocks and/or illness in our lives. Remember it is OK to say NO to people, especially to those ‘office feeders’, a friend that always gets you to skip your gym sessions, a spouse that does most of the cooking but refuses to cook vegetables or to fad health enthusiasts or even your friend’s mother that advises you to give up carbohydrates or that you shouldn’t eat after 6pm… these are all examples of negative influences.
Social Contagion Theory
It’s been shown that social networks can influence the size of your waistband. According to a study (regarding obesity in large social networks) published during 2007 in the New England Journal of medicine, their analysis showed that a person’s risk of obesity has a greater influence from their social networks than their genetics. When a study participant’s friend became obese, that first participant had a 57% greater chance of becoming obese himself. We guess that it can be put down to social norms or preconceptions of what is ‘normal behaviour’.
To paraphrase a leading psychologist speaking on a BBC Radio 4 programme last month “we normalise our own behaviours and attitudes based on the averages of our social groups.” E.g. If your entire social network is overweight, you are unlikely to believe that being overweight yourself is unhealthy and/or a problem and are likely to avoid examples, groups and messages to the contrary. You may have heard the saying ‘we create our own realities’!
It’s not all bad news though; a study published during 2013 in Public Health Nutrition looked at weight-control strategies among adolescents with the assistance of family support. It showed that 50% of the group reporting sustained weight loss seemed to have more familial support.
Quite truthfully, you might lose friendships as you adapt and change your lifestyle because not everyone is ‘game to being a fitness buddy’ or ready to make permanent lifestyle changes themselves. However, true friends should understand your principles about making these healthy changes and should not be out to sabotage your good intentions.
5. Create Regular Consolidation (a.k.a Zen & Realistic Problem Solving!)
It’s important for us to be diligent and create regular ways in which to reflect, focus on the positives and generate our own bespoke plans; allowing us to change our attitudes, behaviours and/or thought processes that could inhibit us from leading a healthier life, particularly one that we truly desire and deserve!
Plans might be set in motion in order to:
- Quit smoking.
- Reduce our alcohol consumption.
- Improve our cooking skills so that we can eat healthier meals.
- Go to our GP to see why we are having intestinal cramps (not just putting ourselves on a GF diet!).
- Understand what the potential reasons are as to why we are overweight.
- Learn how to control our emotions- jealously, anger, fear or sadness could all be a recipe for disaster!
- Exercise to improve our total quality of life- but hey, that could mean spending more time in the bedroom too! 😉
- Learn how to unplug from the mainstream (saying goodbye to long hours spent in front of a computer or iPhone!).
- Become more social- spending more quality time with the people that matter.
- Reduce frivolous spending, learning how to budget and/or reduce debt.
It could also include ways to help us unwind and deal with the stress in our lives, such as: meditation, yoga, trying not to overcommit to social engagements or making time to read in our bedrooms without any interruptions for one hour a week. Another trend is expressing your thoughts on paper; daily or weekly gratitude journal entries. Planning can help instil positive and long term behaviours, helping us to avoid temptations, distractions and/or being able to find the best time(s) in order to start modifying our diet and lifestyles.
It can be recognising that changing one thing in our life may not create the happiness that we have been craving, e.g. losing weight will not necessary make us happy. If you were depressed before the weight loss, it might be there afterwards. Sometimes it’s not only about weight loss- it’s about finding ways to enrich our lives, becoming happy, healthier and hopefully blessed with more friendships and positive experiences as a result.
So let’s remember that everyone has the ability to lead healthier and happier lives (no ‘detox’ pills, drinks or crazy regimes needed!)… we just need to focus on the right decisions, methods and actions to do it!
Are you feeling optimistic? Are you ready for some permanent
and positive changes this year? What are your SMART goals?
Article written by:
Alex Risby BSc, RD and Lynn Risby BSc, Nutritionist
NHS Choices- Benefits to Exercise
NHS Choices- 10 Minute Workouts
The New England Journal of Medicine
BBC Radio 4 Programme – A leading clinical psychologist !
Public Health Nutrition
BDA-Weight Wise (SMART Goals)
Feature Image by: Cooper Smith (Orthorexia nervosa)_Flickr